The fuels industry says there is “a lot of fuel” at UK refineries and terminals and expects demand “to return to normal levels in the coming days”.
This is because motorists have been encouraged to buy fuel as they usually would in a joint statement from BP, Shell UK, Esso Petroleum / ExxonMobil, Wincanton, Certas Energy UK, Hoyer Petrolog UK, Greenergy, Fuels Transport & Logistics , Downstream Fuel and Suckling Transport.
They said: “There is a lot of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to help ensure that fuel is available to be delivered to stations across. the country.
“As many cars now contain more fuel than usual, we expect demand to return to normal levels in the coming days, easing the pressure on gas station forecourts. We encourage everyone to buy fuel as usual.
“We remain extremely grateful to all of the forecourt staff and heavy truck drivers for working tirelessly to maintain supplies during this time.”
Gasoline retailers are hoping for a return to normal after motorists drained pumps over the weekend and faced even more queues on forecourt – as parts of the economy have started to feel the pressure.
In some areas, up to 90% of pumps have dried up, according to industry estimates – and there was little sign of a decrease in panic buying on Monday, with consumers apparently ignoring calls to stop .
This has left industries from taxi drivers to the meat processing sector – and even non-league football – to struggle and prompted healthcare workers to have priority access to fuel.
The British Medical Association said there was a real risk that some might not be able to get to work.
Surrey County Council Chief Tim Oliver said he was facing a major disruption in fuel supplies.
“This is a major incident that requires coordination with all of our partners. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will work together to ensure that essential public services can continue to be provided.
But the Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA), representing two-thirds of all UK foreclosures, said with many driver tanks now full after the weekend, it was expecting “softening demand”.
The government said there was no plans to bring in the army driving trucks to deliver fuel to gas stations, although Environment Secretary George Eustice said the military emergency unit was still on standby.
Mr Eustice said: “There comes a time – as we saw in a previous panic-buying episode during the pandemic over food – when things set in and people get used to it and come back to life normally.
“The sooner people do it, the better.
“The only reason we don’t have gasoline on the forecourt is that people buy gas when they don’t need it.”
The crisis spread after it was revealed last week that supplies to a few gas stations had been cut off, due to the nation’s shortage of truck drivers, causing widespread panic buying.
It was still in evidence for a fourth day on Monday, with roads congested as motorists lined up for more than an hour in some cases, with lines of cars exiting courtyards onto public roads.
Some petrol retailers – Asda and the EG Group – have limited fuel sales to £ 30 at a time.
Even as the buying frenzy subsides, motorists face yet another headache as the price of Brent crude in international oil markets continues to climb, reaching a three-year high of just under $ 80 a barrel – which will likely lead to higher prices at the pump to come.
Meanwhile, the RAC, the automotive organization, said it was aware of “a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by raising prices.”
The industry has begged consumers to stop panic buying and sought to assure the public that with fuel stocks at refineries and terminals at normal levels, it is only the shortage of truck drivers. which limited fuel deliveries.
Gordon Balmer, executive director of PRA, which represents independent fuel retailers, said: “Delayed deliveries and unusual purchasing levels have resulted in supply pressure and a number of stockouts on forecourt. .
“Vehicles filled over the weekend are unlikely to need refueling again anytime soon.
“As a result, we will be watching closely for any easing in demand and a normalization of forecourt inventories over the next few days.”
RAC spokesman Simon Williams noted, however, that the panic buying over the weekend meant every forecourt in the country now had to restock at the same time, putting “incredible pressure on the supply chain.” .
He added: “We urge drivers to take only the fuel they really need.
“The accumulation of inventory in containers only makes the situation worse for those who are in desperate need of fuel and can potentially cause unnecessary fire hazards if not stored properly.”
Among the industries that felt the ripple effect was the besieged meat processing sector – already rocked by recent crises such as a shortage of carbon dioxide used to stun slaughter animals as well as ‘an exodus of foreign workers.
A union of tax drivers told Sky News that up to 30% of its members were unable to work on Monday.
The British Meat Processor ‘Association (BMPA) told Sky News that the oil crisis has caused some companies to lack key personnel, such as vets and meat inspectors.
“So far, this has not resulted in the complete shutdown of any plant, but we are monitoring the situation very carefully,” BMPA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a private taxi hire company emailed customers telling them their services could be affected for up to 48 hours, warning of delays that they would not be able to honor. some long distance bookings.
Make UK, the organization of manufacturers, said there were anecdotal reports that some companies were starting to have issues with the delivery of finished products – although it was not clear whether this was due to the fuel or to the larger problem of heavy truck drivers behind it.
The crisis has even wreaked havoc in the world of sport. Lewes non-league football club have said that due to fuel shortages and the difficulty for players, coaches and officials to attend the game, their midweek game against Carshalton Athletic will be postponed.
Government attempts to address the issue have included plans to allow 5,000 more truck drivers in the UK on temporary three-month visas and suspension of competition laws to allow the fuel industry to work together to fill in the gaps.
But they received a lukewarm response from the industry, with complaints that the measures did not solve long-term problems.
Rod McKenzie, head of policy for the Road Haulage Association – who claims there is a shortage of 100,000 drivers – told Sky News the temporary visa transfer “is just about scratching the surface.”